The New Jersey vice principal who dumped beer on a group of people that were recording his wife’s transgender rant has filed a counterclaim of harassment against the onlookers.
The patrons who captured Michael Smurro’s wife Lisa griping about a transgender woman using the woman’s bathroom at a Jersey Shore restaurant last month had fired the first legal salvo, accusing the Neptune Middle School administrator of harassment.
A Galloway judge will review the civil claims between Smurro, and Debra and Robert Harris and Elaine Nelson in a court hearing Thursday.
A complaint filed by two other people who said they were hit by the beer was dismissed by a judge over lack of evidence. No criminal charges have been filed.
“She’s a man, she was in the woman’s bathroom,” Lisa Smurro told an employee of Ethel’s Lantern Light Restaurant and Tavern in Smithville on April 24, according to the footage. “She’s a man.”
“She’s a man,” Smurro continued. “How are you OK with this? What is wrong with everybody?”
Michael Smurro is then seen approaching a table and dousing a woman filming the rant with beer.
Under New Jersey law, transgender people can use public bathrooms that correlate with their gender identity.
“This case is about standing up against bigotry, bullying and violence,” said attorney David Shanies, who represents accusers of Smurro.
“My clients rejected transphobic hate speech, and in response, Michael Smurro doused them in beer, challenged them to a fight and filed false and frivolous criminal charges against them. My clients are not intimidated and they will hold Michael Smurro fully accountable for his actions.”
Smurro apologized for his role in the incident last month writing, “I do not condone violence or discrimination of any kind and should have simply walked away.”
His Neptune district said it took unspecified “swift and serious” action against the vice principal.
With AP wires